Richmond County to furlough teachers Feb. 15

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The Richmond County school system is digging into the wallets of its employees -- again -- to get itself out of a $7.2 million financial hole.

Superintendent Dana Bedden announced plans Tuesday to offset the deficit by furloughing all employees one day. The action is a result of plummeting state revenues and a school board decision not to raise property taxes.

The furlough day is on top of four days of pay already taken from teachers and four furlough days given other employees. Teachers won't report to work Feb. 15, designated as a professional development day. To compensate for the other days, teachers will be allowed to work 15 minutes less each day.

"Many of them will continue to work beyond the call of duty, and I applaud them for that," Dr. Bedden said.

Last week Gov. Sonny Perdue detailed plans to balance the state's budget in the wake of a projected $900 million shortfall. He announced he would withhold 3 percent from the state's education funding formula and the equivalent of three furlough days for all state-funded school employees.

Other measures planned to offset the Richmond County shortfall include: Selling the old Hornsby and Sue Reynolds elementary schools; increasing class size for early intervention programs; and pulling $4.4 million from reserves.

Taking money from the reserve fund leaves it dangerously low, Dr. Bedden said. It will be less than a month's payroll. School lunch prices could also rise again, he said.

Dr. Bedden said the cuts will directly affect instruction and employees, but it's his top concern to limit the effect as much as he can.

He has avoided layoffs through the latest round of cuts, saying it's crucial for the economy to come out of a recession. The system's 5,000 employees need to keep working, earning paychecks and contributing to the economy, he has said.

Since becoming superintendent less than two years ago, he has cut $60 million from the budget. Since last year, the budget has been reduced 12 percent, or $32 million.

"I want to make no mistake. This will hurt," Dr. Bedden said.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Education waived its requirement that teachers work 190 days. The move allows school systems the flexibility to furlough teachers up to 10 days but doesn't reduce the 180 instructional days.

State Attorney General Thurbert Baker's office is reviewing how furloughs affect teachers' retirement, spokesman Russ Willard said.

Dr. Bedden said the county will continue to allow employees the option of receiving their full pay and writing a check back to the school system in the amount of their pay cut. That will ensure that their retirement isn't harmed by the cuts.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

WANT TO HELP?

Richmond County schools Superintendent Dana Bedden said it's time for the community to come together and stop assigning blame. He encouraged residents to get involved.

VOLUNTEER: Call the school system's professional learning department at (706) 826-1000.

CONTRIBUTE: Call Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce at (706) 821-1300 and ask about the education foundation.

READ MORE

Columbia County teachers to be furloughed

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justus4
101
Points
justus4 07/29/09 - 04:43 am
0
0
The furloughs can work to
Unpublished

The furloughs can work to save dollars by executing the plan the superintendent has outline. Those professional deveoplment days should be used to maybe exchange teachers' lesson plans and rotate teaching subjects. Creative thinking is key and second-guessing the leadership is not helpful.

blackambiance79
0
Points
blackambiance79 07/29/09 - 05:21 am
0
0
Columbia County BOE has opted

Columbia County BOE has opted to do this for their school system: pupils will receive the entire Thanksgiving week off. The unpaid teacher furlough days are set for Aug. 3 and Nov. 23 -- days school will not be in session.

hidingoutagain
0
Points
hidingoutagain 07/29/09 - 06:21 am
0
0
I am a teacher and thank God

I am a teacher and thank God I still have a job. Furloughs or not, I AM STILL EMPLOYEED.

g-dog express
0
Points
g-dog express 07/29/09 - 06:44 am
0
0
The Nov. 23rd is sticking to

The Nov. 23rd is sticking to the support personnel again in Columbia County. Most all support personnel have already taken a pay cut and for the first time teachers get it and Charlie Nagel to minimumize the teacher pay cuts spreads a little back over to support personnel. Ya for the small guy, Charlie!

avidreader
3213
Points
avidreader 07/29/09 - 07:13 am
0
0
I recently spent an entire

I recently spent an entire week at a leadership conference where Dr. Bedden was in attendance (and actively involved) everyday. He spoke to us with frankness, sincerity, and authority. Once again, I have to repeat my comments from last week's blog -- I trust the man. Even though part of his SIXTY MILLION dollar cuts are coming out of my pay, I still applaud the man for taking control of a previously wayward school system. My heart continues to lead me to be an enthusiastic educator, and I will not give up an ounce of my integrity. As posted above, I agree; it's great to have a job and know that none of my peers are being furloughed permanently.

happy
0
Points
happy 07/29/09 - 07:38 am
0
0
A leadership conference that

A leadership conference that was held at the Doubletree and where food was provided. Seems like they could have had it on Broad Street and everyone be responsible for their own breakfast and lunch!

Fifteen minutes less a day is a joke....

wonderwhygib
0
Points
wonderwhygib 07/29/09 - 07:44 am
0
0
Trimming the cost of doing

Trimming the cost of doing school business can continue. Do you really need to pay retired teachers and administrators to sit on tribunal panels. I am sure they are not doing it for free. Use current administrators and teacher to sit on the panels. Rotate them out from different schools. They have more understanding of what is currently going on in the classrooms today than retirees who have been retired for 10 years of more. I think if you look close, you can find many places to cut cost that would not affect the classroom setting. And if you are going to pay for an attorney to represent the board, let the attorney prosecute the cases. Parents should make their kids behave and if they go to tribunal, parents need to take it on themselves to prepare themselves for it. Why is the need felt to blame the school system for these kids who screw up bad enough (i.e. having sex in school, bringing drugs, assaulting, chronic bad behavior...etc). Parents should get off their lazy rear ends and get involved in their child's education. You took the time to have them, take the time to raise them right.

blackambiance79
0
Points
blackambiance79 07/29/09 - 08:32 am
0
0
They should consider taking

They should consider taking off a couple of those days that are Early Release Days... maybe they are beneficial for elementary schools but a waste of time for the high school level in my opinion.

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 07/29/09 - 08:36 am
0
0
While I am thankful that I am

While I am thankful that I am employed in this economy.. I can't help it when I think about working for free!!

peace4784
117
Points
peace4784 07/29/09 - 09:10 am
0
0
Typically, the sheep and
Unpublished

Typically, the sheep and huddled masses at the bottom are buying into this contrived crisis. The 10% at the top are making monkies of the 80 % at the bottom. Urine and crap rools downhill and it's' welcomed at the bottom. People give up too easily. They willingly give up their freedom and earned income to this increasingly oppressive government. There is absolutely no resistance anywhere. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The rich get richer because they are more determined and vigilent. There is money available. Money does not just evaporate. The money flows back to it's source. As long as the puppetmasters can get the puppets to work for free and sacrifice for the government and corporations nothing will get better for the lowly 80% serfs. Go over to Windsor Jewelers and see how many people are solicting and begging their wealthy customers for contributions. The soliciters and beggers are posted outside of Wal Mart asking the last and the least to do the most. The Yellow virus which weakens the backbone is running rampent in this country with the remedy of courage in short supply.

jeffbert
0
Points
jeffbert 07/29/09 - 09:25 am
0
0
I do not think it is a good

I do not think it is a good idea for county to cheat students or teachers by having a furlough. Why don't we furlough the higher paid administration for a week.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 07/29/09 - 09:40 am
0
0
The furloughs are just a pay

The furloughs are just a pay cut for teachers. They are asked to "take the day off" but end up doing their work off the clock because it needs to be done to properly teach their kids.

blackambiance79
0
Points
blackambiance79 07/29/09 - 09:47 am
0
0
Yeah you are right

Yeah you are right FedupwithAUG, those teachers who care about their job and the quality service they render to the kids will still end up working off the clock....

blues550
376
Points
blues550 07/29/09 - 10:02 am
0
0
Four day school week - TUE
Unpublished

Four day school week - TUE through FRI - will fix alot.

Lobosolo
5
Points
Lobosolo 07/29/09 - 10:23 am
0
0
Good post, avidreader. Your

Good post, avidreader. Your character speaks for itself, and the rest of the dedicated teachers who are getting reamed for poor governance. One of the most, if not THE most important parts of our society always gets the shaft because of the short-sightedness of our greedy "leaders". Let Sonny and all them jerks in the statehouse take a furlough.

life
0
Points
life 07/29/09 - 10:27 am
0
0
This is so concerning. How

This is so concerning. How are we supposed to educated our children to be competitive with other children of the world when we as the United States of America are not supporting education or our children?

happy
0
Points
happy 07/29/09 - 10:49 am
0
0
Some school districts are not

Some school districts are not even furloughing !

aninsider
60
Points
aninsider 07/29/09 - 10:57 am
0
0
I would just like to know

I would just like to know when the senators, representative and even the governor intend to take their furloughs? If they gave up some of their pay, it would surely pad the coffers.

georgiastoryteller
0
Points
georgiastoryteller 07/29/09 - 11:05 am
0
0
Wonder how much the

Wonder how much the Doubletree and those lunches cost? What about his upcoming pep rally at the Civic Center? Too bad the real people in the trenches, the teachers, have to suffer.

Evans Ga.
0
Points
Evans Ga. 07/29/09 - 11:51 am
0
0
If the teachers have to take

If the teachers have to take a cut does that mean that the BOE support (admin's, etc.) do to? Seems only fair.

pichijojo
0
Points
pichijojo 07/29/09 - 12:00 pm
0
0
Thank you Dr. Bedden for all

Thank you Dr. Bedden for all your hard work in trying to make the very best of a system that was severely damaged when you got here and for using great wisdom in trying to help us all survive these difficult economic times. Thank you Richmond County teachers for your dedication in spite of it all. It is so much better for everyone to take a small cut than to have to watch any more teachers lose their jobs completely. Times are tough right now, but with this magnitude of selflessness and dedication, we will survive. We could become useless victims, or we can strive for excellence. May this be a time we prove we're better than the system itself. I am the mother of 4 Richmond County High School students. From the bottom of my heart I thank you and beg that you would not become bitter but use this as an opportunity to rise ABOVE the circumstances.

jesuswept
4
Points
jesuswept 07/29/09 - 12:11 pm
0
0
All these pay cuts, yet the

All these pay cuts, yet the Richmond County School System is holding a massive rally, required for all employees, at the James Brown Civic Center on August 3rd complete with fancy guest speakers, etc. Does this smell of fiscal responsibility? Of course the party line will be that the facility rental, speaker fees, and other costs were covered by "corporate donors", but if you believe that.........

sweetiepie
0
Points
sweetiepie 07/29/09 - 01:04 pm
0
0
If RCBOE is in need of alot

If RCBOE is in need of alot of money than why are they buying air conditioned tractor lawn mowers to mow the stadiums and they do not have enough text books to go around for every one go back to july 16 newspaper dr bedden was driving one of these lawn mowers

Whatthetruth
0
Points
Whatthetruth 07/29/09 - 01:54 pm
0
0
This is a real joke! At least

This is a real joke! At least Columbia county is working to help their teachers... so I repeat, If the flexibility is in place, why are Rcboe teachers being asked to work on those days and instead being asked to take 15 minutes off each of their days throughout the year? Teachers already work over 1 to 2 hours for free anyway... Furlough is a furlough, for those days of furlough; teachers should not be required to work, especially since this flexibility has been granted. What is fair is fair. How in the world will you monitor taking an extra 15 minutes off each day? Most districts are taking the 3-day furloughs; Rcboe teachers are taking 5; who is standing up for the employees and subsequently the students in this district? Dishearten teachers will definitely impact student performance.

pecksniffian
3
Points
pecksniffian 07/29/09 - 02:14 pm
0
0
Amen to the post above and

Amen to the post above and others similar. Fifteen minutes off a day is a cruel joke. Most teachers work that much extra (usually lots more) DAILY! Give us the unpaid days off so we can spend that time with OUR families. Then we won't feel so utterly and thoroughly screwed.

blondietoo007
0
Points
blondietoo007 07/29/09 - 02:31 pm
0
0
Why protect their retirement

Why protect their retirement by allowing to "pay back"? Who is protecting mine in this economy? Let them worry about their own retirement.

jahree2
0
Points
jahree2 07/29/09 - 02:49 pm
0
0
When are the governor and

When are the governor and state congress furlough days??? When do they take a pay cut? When do they drive themselves to work? When do they stop using govt vehicles?

happy
0
Points
happy 07/29/09 - 04:23 pm
0
0
I will NOT work extra anymore

I will NOT work extra anymore ...I have heard of no other county making their employees work on furlough days....I would like to know how much was spent for the conference at the Doubletree. I would rather the corporate sponsers buy a box of paper for me than fund the convocation. I would also like to know what the tribunal panel is paid a year and why do we need a public relations spokesperson...do other counties in our area have this? We also do not need pricey tractors when they don't even change the air filters in the school and do nto take care of the roof leaks and the mold!
how about a 4 day work week ...that might save money on transportation and electricity.

There are a lot of ways to trim the budget but all I see from RCBOE is spend spend spend !

Tots
25920
Points
Tots 07/29/09 - 05:54 pm
0
0
Now that was a good post

Now that was a good post happy@4:23.

Tots
25920
Points
Tots 07/29/09 - 06:07 pm
0
0
Stop alot of the after school

Stop alot of the after school programs,There should be a fee for any after school program you do keep.Say five(5) dollars per child per day.If the parent doesn't have the money they could get a sponsor.

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